Category Archives: 2002

A Weekend in Atlanta- 2018 ‘The Mitty’

#34 gets ready to travel down to Road Atlanta for a weekend of racing at the 2018 edition of  ‘The Mitty.’

Last weekend we travelled across the country to participate in the 2018 Classic Motorsports ‘The Mitty’ races held on the beautiful Road Atlanta circuit just north of Atlanta, Georgia. This is perhaps the biggest vintage race on the east coast with over 300 entries.

The featured marque for this year’s race was Nissan/Datsun so the paddock was full of 510’s and Z cars. My 2002 was the token German in our paddock, which was also home to the cars of John Morton, the Grand Marshal for the event, and Adam Carolla.

#34 was the token German in a sea of Datsuns.

Our weekend began on Thursday with the red-eye flight from Portland to Atlanta. With only 4 hours of troubled sleep our next challenge was morning rush hour traffic up I-85 through the heart of Atlanta. YUK!

We had been invited to visit the BMWCCA Foundation Museum which is located across the street from BMW’s mega-plant outside Greenville, SC. The museum is preparing to open their new exhibit called “The Icon,” to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the introduction of the 2002.

My car was invited to participate in the exhibit. I had shipped it back to SC a month or so ago and was excited to break it out for the weekend to go racing.

#34 getting a full race prep at Vintage Racing Co. under the watchful eye of Michael Eberhardt.

I found a local race-prep shop, Vintage Racing Co., to transport the car from the museum to the track and to do a race prep on the car. The owner, Michael Eberhardt, was incredibly helpful and competent.

Our visit to the museum was great. We met the curator, Michael Mitchell, who is responsible for putting the exhibit together, as well as Scott Dishman, the Director of the Foundation, and Jackie Bechek, who is on the Board of the Foundation.

We toured the facility and saw how the exhibit is coming together. There are 24 other significant 2002’s being readied and set in place for the exhibit. Around the outside are photo’s, paintings, dealer signs, and a wide array of memorabilia associated with the development, manufacture, and introduction of the 2002. The exhibit is scheduled to open on May 18, 2018.

The BMW Performance Driving Center.

Following the tour we were taken across the street to have lunch at the Performance Driving Center. Our lunch included a quick tour of the school and a ride around the track in a M2 with Mike Renner.

It was time to head back down to the track and get registered for the weekend and find our car in the Road Atlanta paddock. Because of the huge number of entries HSR was utilizing both paddock areas at the track. The Racecraft truck was located in the Pro paddock on the inside of the Start/Finish straight.

Thursday morning began at 7:20 AM with a quick driver’s meeting. Since I have never driven Road Atlanta I had signed up for the Track Orientation Program. This program, run by Jim Davis, started with a van tour of the track. Jim talked us through car placement, turn-in points, landmarks, and a host of other helpful information. Following the van ride the TOP group had their own test session on track.

Jim’s tour was very helpful, but there is nothing like logging laps in your own car to learn a new circuit. Road Atlanta has several blind turns, most notably Turn 11. You approach the turn from one side of a steep hill, and then crest the hill and turn while passing under a bridge. The back side drops steeply while still turning down to the very fast Turn 12. 

On my first lap I followed another BMW that drove straight off the track his first time through Turn 11. I almost followed him, but was going slowly enough to turn and stay on track. Believe me, television does not show how steeply the track drops as you plunge down to Turn 12.

On Friday our group had 2 practice sessions. My lap times got better each session as I gained confidence and familiarity with the track. My best lap in the first session was a 1:50.7, and 1:48.8 for the second session.

In the afternoon they put several groups together for a sprint race sponsored by Sasco Sports. It was a large group of over 50 cars, and I started 31st. The race was only 8 laps and with that many cars on track it was very hectic the entire race. I managed to pass a few cars and finish 28th with a best lap of 1:47.9.

I will say that the racing is more aggressive than we have on the west coast. I had a Porsche dive bomb me turning into turn 3 several times, as well as a few cars that blocked as I was trying to pass them, even on the straights.

Fast and technical. The Esses are also quite a challenge.

On Saturday we had one Qualifying session in the morning and a sprint race in the afternoon. I was able to get my lap time down to 1:47.0 in the morning session which put me 32nd on the grid out of 44 cars. I was happy that my times were still improving, but not so happy to be buried so deeply in our group.

The race went better than I thought. I passed 6 cars in the first couple of laps, but got blocked by a lapper on the last lap and finished 28th with a best lap of 1:46.8. Considering the higher afternoon temperatures and some grease on the track from all the cars running, I was pretty happy with that.

We only had our feature race on Sunday. Several cars in our group either broke or left early so we had 21 cars take the green flag. I started 13th and again passed several cars in the opening laps. After 4 laps I found myself right behind Jim Froula in his 240Z and was able to stay with him until the checkered flag for a 9th place finish, and a best lap of 1:45.6.

I’ll be posting the video in a few days.

Michael and his crew get ready to load #34 for the trip back to the museum.

Both Mary and I really enjoyed the weekend and our time in the Atlanta area. The people were warm and friendly, the weather was perfect, and the BBQ was spectacular. Road Atlanta has been on my list of tracks that I wanted to drive. It is fast, technical, and intimidating, but rewards lots of laps and familiarity.

The best part of the weekend was the fact that #34 worked flawlessly all weekend, and was driven onto the truck on Sunday night with no issues. He will get a well deserved rest in the BMWCCA museum until next January.

I want to thank Scott Dishman and Michael Mitchell for their help and hospitality; Michael Eberhardt for his help and expertise; and David Hinton at HSR; and Jim and Austin from Racecraft. Without these folks we couldn’t have done the event.

M3- First Race


The boys are ready to race!

We had our first race last weekend with the M3 at the HMSA Spring race at Laguna Seca.

Let me first give a big shout out to Pall, Luis, and Kevin for coming down and cheering us on. It was great fun to meet them and talk about all things M3! And if you haven’t looked at Pall’s Flicker album yet- don’t miss it. He got some really great shots of the car.

This was my first time in the car and I always approach a new car with the idea of just getting comfortable with it, the controls, the feedback its giving me, and making sure everything is operating nominally.

Saturday morning was cool and damp. The track was dry, but off-line there were damp patches. I used the first few laps of the session to just get comfortable in the car and to build a little heat in the slicks. I also needed to scrub the mold release off their face.

My first race with the new M3. What a sweet car!

After a few laps I began to build up my speed. The gearbox in the car is pretty amazing. It is a Getrag 265 case with Samsonas innards. The cluster features straight cut gears and it has a dog ring so the clutch is not necessary once you are moving. I chose to use the clutch for now so as to not add another complication to my learning the car. Later I’ll work at shifting w/o the clutch. The gear throw is VERY short; just a flick of the wrist and you’re in the next gear. Really sweet.

The car felt very neutral and I kept having to push myself deeper into the corners before braking as they are much more effective than any of my other cars.

Saturday afternoon the rains came. It started just as I was sitting on pre-grid for the qualifying race with my 2002. By the time our race was over there were puddles starting to form on the track so I decided not to take the M3 out.

Sunday morning was sunny and warmer. I took the car out for the morning warm-up session. The second time in a new car is always better. I feel like I at least know more what to expect, plus I am more comfortable with the steering, pedals, and shifter. So I turned it up another notch.

As I began to push the car harder it began to show more of its personality. The first thing I noticed was a little bit of under steer on turn in. As I reached the apex and added power the car instantly neutralized and came off the corner like a freight train. There are in cockpit adjustments for the sway bars and brake bias. I will begin exploring those later. I have left them at the settings the previous owner recommended.

The engine in the car is great. It dogs below 4500, which you would expect. Once you reach 5500 it really comes alive and pulls hard up until the red line. I was choosing to shift at about 8000-8200. red line is marked on the tach at 8500.

I was gridded for the feature race in 4th behind 2 2018 Porsche GT3 Cup cars, and a 1990 Olds tube frame GTO car. How did we get 2 brand new GT3 Cup cars on the grid of a vintage race? Good question. I asked but never got a straight answer from HMSA. I’m guessing the reason was financial. There was also a 2012 GT3 Cup car in the field. He was gridded at the rear of our group because he didn’t have a qualifying time.

As the 2 GT3 Cup cars sailed off into the distance I chased the GTO car. I decided I would just follow him and keep him honest while I was still learning the car. My best lap was a 1:40, about 2 tenths quicker than the GTO’s best lap. A few laps into the race the other GT3 Cup car came forward and passed us both so I finished 5th overall, but 2nd in the ‘vintage’ class.

Old reliable slogs through the rain to a 2nd place finish in our qualifying race.

I also raced the Koepchen 2002 in Group 4. The car was just plain ripping all weekend long. We had the new Ivey engine in the car and it performed very well.

In Saturday’s qualifying race I had a great dice with Dennis Racine in his yellow Mini. I was finally able to pass him in Turn 11 on the last lap to finish 2nd.

In the feature race I was able to pass the lead Datsun 510 going through Turn 2. He missed a shift going into Turn 5 and I opened a lead on him that I was able to keep throughout the rest of the race.

My best lap was a 1:49.7. The best I have ever done in the 2002 at Laguna Seca.

Moving Parts

This week finds I have a lot of cars on the move.

First car is the M3 race car I bought a few weeks ago. It has been loaded into a container and onto a ship. That ship left Australia on January 9th headed for Seattle. It should arrive sometime in early February.

The Willis and all its extras left Racecraft’s shop yesterday morning. It will head south to Arizona where it will be photographed for the Bonham’s Auction catalog for their Amelia Island Auction that is happening on March 8th. Here’s a link to the auction site.

The Willis is not yet listed among the Lots on offer but should be soon:

http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/24809/

Last but not least, my Hyde Park Motors Trans-Am 2002 is headed back to the BMWCCA Foundation museum in Greer, SC where it will be a part of the display honoring the 50th Anniversary of the 2002.

I spent a couple of days cleaning him all up. I then took him up to Portland to meet the same truck that is hauling the Willis.

The car will be on display starting in March through January. He will get a well deserved rest for this summer.

Inaugural Spring Classic @ Laguna Seca

This year SCRAMP started a new race with hopes to build it into a premier vintage race in the coming years. It features cars from the 1970’s through the 1990’s. There were groups for  F1 cars, Atlantic cars, and big block Trans-Am cars. However, the largest grid for this first event was the 2.5 Trans-Am Sedans.

Group E was made up of BMW 2002’s, Alfas, 510’s, a Mini, and several Porsches. 34 cars total!

I entered my #34 2002. This car has always been a race car. It taken off the truck at Hyde Park Motors and built into a race car. In fact, it was the first BMW to win points in a Trans-Am race at Riverside in 1968.

34 got to mix it up with many of the same cars he raced against back in the day.

There were some fast drivers and fast cars in our group, including Sam Smith in a 2002, and Troy Ermish in his always fast Datsun 510.

The racing was some of the best I’ve experienced for several years. I managed a 4th in the feature race, which was not too shabby given the quality of the field.

Here’s the video, I hope you enjoy the great tin-top racing:

SOVREN Spring Sprints

#34 ran well all weekend despite not having the best gear in the diff for this track.

I ran the #34 2002 at the SOVREN Spring Sprints held on April 28-30 at Pacific Raceway outside Seattle.

It was a fun weekend with lots of track time. I had some good racing with several other cars.

I should mention that this car has the old style long-neck differential in it. Because of that there are a limited number of diff ratios available for the car.

Seattle has a very long front straight and with the gear I had in the car I was hitting 8,000 RPM about 1/2 to 2/3 0f the way down the straight. So I had to feather the throttle and this was costing me about a second a lap.

Here’s the video from the weekend:

David Love Memorial Races 2017

Two classic 2002’s at the David Love Memorial Races 2017

Our 2017 season began with the David Love Memorial Races at Sonoma Raceway on March 31 – April 2, 2017 put on by CSRG. I brought my Koepchen 2002 to run in Group 8, and my Chevron B16 to run in Group 7.

It was a beautiful weekend, mid 70’s and lots of sun. Quite a change from our long, cold winter here in Oregon. With all the rain they have had in CA the hills around the race track were a bright green. A perfect setting for a weekend of racing.

The K2002 performed well all weekend.

Let’s start with the 2002. I was trying a new set of the Avon ZZS DOT radial tires this weekend. They are a little wider than the Toyos we normally run on this car (215 mm vs. 205 mm). I found I liked them a lot. They were very consistent through a run, and didn’t seem to be as affected by temperature as the Toyos.

I love driving this car at Sonoma. It is a track that suits the 2002 perfectly. As a result the car punches above its weight. By that I mean it can compete well against cars it normally would be easily beaten by. I was able to turn a 1:55.3 on Saturday morning during qualifying! That is a lap average of about 90 mph.

The car runs in Group 8 at CSRG events. This group is made up of sedans and sports cars from the mid 1960’s up to the mid 1970’s. There are GTO Corvettes, Camaro, Porsches (911’s & 914’s), and Datsuns (510’s and Z’s). Quite a mixed bag of cars.

David Martin gets his GTU Z car out of shape in front of me in Turn 7.

I qualified 10th out of 23 cars and began the race outside of David Martin’s GTU 240Z. I was able to get ahead of him at the start, but on lap 2 he tried to out brake me going into Turn 7 and got behind on his steering and I was able to repass him.

I held off David and 2 other Z cars for the next 6-7 laps until he was able to out brake me again for Turn 7 and get by. Then down in Turn 11 the other 2 Z’s snuck by me. I ended up finishing 10th with a best race lap of 1:56.4.

I chase a Lola T-70 through Turn 2 at the David Love Memorial Races.

I also entered my Chevron B16 this weekend. I am still trying to learn to get the most out of this car. It is quite different than my other production based cars. My biggest problem is that I don’t fit very well in the car so I am not comfortable and confident. I really struggle with consistent footwork on the pedals. Jim @ Racecraft will be doing some modifications to the pedals to try and help.

The car runs in Group 7 with CSRG. This group is made up of both closed and open wheeled cars. There are a lot of Formula Atlantic cars, some Can-Am cars, an mid-1980’s F1 car, and a few 2 liter sports racers in the group.

I started 10th and finished 9th in my race, with a best lap of 1:48.7. My goal was to log laps and work on feeling comfortable driving the car. My best guess is that I will be turning 1:45’s once I get more experience with it.

Here’s the video from the weekend. Thanks for watching!

2016 Season Recap- Part 4- The Hot Summer Months

A box among the Bats. My newly refurbished 1800 Ti got its first track test at the Northwest Historic in Seattle.

The mid part of our season consisted of races in Seattle and Portland, both events close to home.

The Northwest Historic put on by SOVREN are always a fun event. This year was no exception.

This weekend was especially fun in that I was able to track test my recently refurbished 1800 Ti. Terry Forland from Racecraft did a superb job of creating an homage to  proper mid-1960’s touring car. Here’s the short video I made of that test:

I had my trusty Koepchen 2002 at this event. The racing was very tight all weekend. I was in a large group of mixed production cars, sedans, and older sports racers. The grid of the race was mixed up because there was a rain shower for qualifying and some of the faster cars chose to start at the back of the field. Take a look at the video from the event:

The Portland Vintage Festival was the weekend following Seattle. I raced the 1800 Ti and my Chevron at this event.

The Chevron and I were still coming to terms. I was getting a much better feel for the car, but still needed to work on downshifts. I had a fun race with a Lola in the feature:

The race debut for the 1800 went really well. It ran flawlessly all weekend. I learned quite a bit about its idiosyncrasies and had a fun race with Steve Smith in his potent VW:

2016 Season Re-Cap Pt. 2- April in California


 Our opening races of the year were down in California- the David Love Memorial at Sonoma, and the HMSA Spring event at Laguna Seca.

These races would be my first chance to drive my newly acquired Chevron B16 so I was excited for the season to begin. I also raced my trusty Koepchen 2002.

My 2002 races in Group 8 which is a mixture of mid and large bore production cars and sedans. Sonoma is ideal suited to the 2002 so they do very well there against the larger engined cars.

I started about mid pack and had a great race with John Murray in his 2002, and Gary Cook in his 240Z. My best lap time for the weekend was 1:59.3. Here’s the link to the video of that race:

This was also my first opportunity to drive the Chevron B16 I purchased over the winter. We had to make some modifications to the car so I could even fit into it. We trimmed the bottom of the dash for my knees, took out the dead pedal, and put some spacers in the drivers side window to give me a little more head room.

My first experience driving the B16. What a Ride!

My objective for this first race was to just get comfortable in the car. It is significantly different than driving my other cars. It is a purpose built race car with a lot more speed than anything else I own.

This Chevron has a BMW m10 motor in it. It produces about 220 HP and is very tractable. It pulls hard from about 4,000 RPM up to its red line. The brakes are phenomenal, much more effective than any of my other cars. It has amazing amounts of grip, yet is quite neutral and predictable in the corners.

The weekend following Sonoma we went to Laguna Seca for the HMSA Spring Event.

I had another great race with John Murray in our 2002’s. I was able to beat him this weekend by out braking him going into the Cork Screw and holding him off for 6 laps. A lot of fun!

The Chevron and I continued to get to know each other. Unfortunately I broke a half-shaft in the car during the race and had to retire.

Here’s the video:

Bad Day at Black Rock- The Portland Historics 2014

MeinKoepchen@PDX_2014
Here I am sitting on pre-grid in the Koepchen 2002 waiting to go out for qualifying.

I had three cars entered for the 2014 Portland Historics, held July 11-13 at Portland International Raceway- the freshly re-done 700, the Koepchen 2002, and the Luigi CSL.

Right from the very first lap of practice on Friday the trouble began.

First to go down was the 700. On my very first warm-up lap in

Here I am being chased by John Murray in his 2002. Usually he is in front.
Here I am being chased by John Murray in his 2002. Usually he is in front.

practice the left side barrel separated from the block. Not knowing the cause, or if any internal damage was done, we decided it was best to park the car for the rest of the weekend.

Next up was the 2002. This car is pretty quick, however, the Group it was running in was made up of ‘B’ sedans from the 60’s and early 70’s, and since Datsun was the featured marque this year there was a whole bunch of very fast Datsun 510’s  up from California in my group.

I was able to qualify well, about mid-pack, and ran both races on Saturday without incident.

Sunday morning I went out for the warm-up session, and the motor did not feel right. Jim started to check the engine and found it had no oil pressure.

At first we thought that the drive gear had come off the oil pump shaft, but it turned out to be much more serious than that.

The motor went down to Terry Tinney and he found that the chain tensioner for the cam drive chain had broken and dropped down into the front of the timing chain cover. There it lodged in the chain and broke the crankshaft.

So we had 2 major engine failures. But wait there’s more.

Luigi working hard to stay ahead of some American Iron.
Luigi working hard to stay ahead of some American Iron.

That left me racing the CSL. You may remember that we had brake issues in Sonoma that almost caused me to wreck the car. Those issues reared their ugly head this weekend as well with similar results.

Jim had changed the brake fluid to a higher temp fluid. But the problem showed up again during my first qualifying race. Going into the chicane on the opening lap I almost wrecked it again when the front brakes didn’t work.

Jim put on some heat shielding for the next race, but still the pedal went mushy after a few laps.

The cherry on top of the sunday came on Sunday when a thunderstorm came through just before the flag race for the CSL. Since I don’t have rain tires for the car I was forced to sit it out.

Not a very fun weekend to say the least.

I did get some fun video though. Here are the links. First is the video from the 2002:

And here’s the video from the CSL: